Commentary: Education In COVID-19 Era, Napo And Team Must Be Applauded

Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh

The dreaded COVID-19 that has unsettled the whole world, including the super-powerful nations, has its ramifications on Ghana too.

Various sectors have been hit hard by the deadly bug and the education sector is one of the areas that have suffered greatly.

Considering the number of persons, from school children at the basic level to students at the apex of the ladder, teachers and educational workers within the sector, there was the need to fashion out better ways to prevent the spread of the virus in the all-important sector.

The closure of all schools on March 16, 2020 and the suspension of various events to stop the spread of the virus came very quick and that helped in preventing students in various schools from contracting the COVID-19.

The President’s announcement was met with diverse reactions, but it was the best decision for the country.

Events afterwards placed the onerous task at the doorsteps of the Ministry of Education in ensuring that students, teachers and other educational workers were largely safe.

The focus was on one person, namely the Minister of Education, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, and it was so because of how well the educational sector would be handled so that the future of numerous students would not be jeopardized in the not too good times.

The minister and all the agencies under his ministry were being watched to fashion out the best of plans to make sure that the education sector would move.

The partial reopening of schools was the moment of truth for the minister and his team, as the slightest mistake was going to cost the lives of lots of students.

Various ways of teaching and learning were quickly rolled out to help students, especially the final-years, to prepare to write their final examinations.

Dr. Prempeh presided over the preparation of various schools from basic to the tertiary levels for the partial easing of the restrictions to pave the way for the finalists to exit and that was done to perfection.

Provision of various wares to aid in observing various safety protocols went ahead smoothly and where there were shortfalls, they were quickly addressed.

While the students went back to school in batches, starting from the tertiary level, there were fears that the virus could hit the students but that was not to be because of the excellent measures that the Ministry of Education put in place.

It is imperative to establish that the Minister of Education is working with a team, but the success or failure of the education sector in the midst of COVID-19 largely depends on how he is able to roll out proper agenda and how best he is able to drag his team along.

As the leader of the team, any wrong judgement on the part of the minister would spell disaster for the country, and it was the more reason why consultations and engagements of all stakeholders in the sector were good

There were unexpected incidents of COVID-19 in some schools, but the proactive measures that Dr. Prempeh adopted came into play and helped in parrying the worst case scenarios.

There is no gainsaying the fact that government’s decision to further ease restrictions on schools was because of how the reopening for final-year students and second-year Gold track batch of the senior high schools were handled by the Ministry of Education.

The continuing students of various tertiary institutions are in school and the preparation that went into the decision to get them back to school went on incredibly well and come October, this year, the second cycle continuing students will be back to school.

Again, there is a huge task on the Ministry of Education, but the minister and his team will rise up to the occasion, as expected.

Just like any other human institution, the ministry and its agencies would certainly fault in their quest to ensure that the education sector does not unduly suffer in these terrible times.

In the event they fault, they should not be crucified, all in the name of politics; rather, they should be helped to fine-tune their approach to issues relating to education in this COVID-19 era.

So far, the Ministry of Education, headed by Dr. Prempeh and his team, have handled affairs flawlessly at the time that the advanced nations with all the resources at their disposal are struggling to grapple with their education sector.

As the COVID-19 is still with us, the minister and his team should however not be carried away by what has been achieved so far, but rather, they must strive to do more for the country.